Published on July 19th, 2011 | by Kristin Clift0
How Social Networking Leads To Narcissism: A Narcissist’s Perspective
I am a self-diagnosed narcissist. The basis for this conclusion? My Facebook profile.
The majority of today’s hottest articles in social science have to do with the social networking narcissism phenomena. A few self-evident, yet nonetheless interesting articles, study the relations between narcissistic personality traits and social networking. These academic articles (that I read in my spare time because I’m super smart) characterize narcissists as people who display exhibitionistic behaviors and have an inflated perception of the self. Narcissists think they are more attractive, important, powerful and intelligent than they really are, but also they work really hard at developing these characteristics — which only perpetuates the delusion.
One study* examined the generational self-involvement levels with a cross-temporal meta-analysis thingy. The study shows that the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) has increased with each passing generation of American college-aged students. The study also indexed the levels of narcissism in celebrities and found that, “recent college students approach celebrities in their levels of narcissism.”
As we may know, cultural trends and personality traits are correlated. When it comes to the generational rise of myopic egotism, this statement seems to be true.There are several possible explanations for the upward trend in narcissism over the years. Perhaps not-so-surprisingly, the upward trend actually started before the “me” technologies (i.e. iPod, Tivo) or self-promoting platforms (i.e. YouTube, social networks and blogs) became widespread — but since their inception, narcissism seems to have increased exponentially, specifically social networking narcissism.
Social networks give us the control over what information we display on our profiles, allowing us to strategically regulate self-presentation. Interacting virtually rather than face-to-face permits narcissists more control over the image and reputation we want to establish for ourselves.
Social networking sites are a narcissist’s best friend. With YouTube, blogs, Facebook — you name it — the average person can become “famous.” It’s relatively easy, or so it seems. The larger your social network, the more important you may feel. The more control over your photos posted, the more attractive you can make yourself seem. In this generation, we are celebrities in our own virtually constructed realms.
So what are we to do with our conceited selves? The obvious answer would be to step outside ourselves, seek relationships that are meaningful and to become more charitable.
Perhaps these studies will prompt some introspection (but you were probably already involved in that activity). If a psychologist were to look at your profile, what personality traits would they see?
Diagnose yourself by asking these questions: How many “friends” do you have on Facebook? How many photos do you have posted of you? How often do you post status updates?
And most importantly, how hot are your profile photos? ♦ ♦ ♦
Kristin Clift is a grad student about to travel into the depths of New Zealand to study at the University of Otago where she will commence her dreams of becoming an anthropologist. She enjoys reading peer reviewed articles and writing not-so-peer-reviewed articles. Follow Kristin on Twitter at @kristinclift.
*J.M. Twenge, S. Konrath, J.D. Foster, W.K. Campbell and B.J. Bushman, Egos inflating over time: A cross-temporal meta-analysis of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Journal of Personality 76 (2008), pp. 875–902.
E.Y.L. Onga, R.P. Anga, J.C.M. Hoa, J. Lima, D.H. Gohb, C.S. Leeb and A.Y.K. Chuab, Narcissism, extraversion and adolescents’ self-presentation on Facebook, Personality and Individual Differences Volume 50, Issue 2, January 2011, Pages 180-185